Twelve new stories from one of the most captivating voices in contemporary outdoor literature. Fed by the fertile springs of love and sport, " Lost in Wyoming" treats readers to a rare taste in literary fiction, the bittersweet pleasures of relationships afield. Men and women, fathers and sons, siblings separated by life's unfathomable tides, the characters in these storieTwelve new stories from one of the most captivating voices in contemporary outdoor literature. Fed by the fertile springs of love and sport, " Lost in Wyoming" treats readers to a rare taste in literary fiction, the bittersweet pleasures of relationships afield. Men and women, fathers and sons, siblings separated by life's unfathomable tides, the characters in these stories share in the heartfelt tug of wars immediately recognizable in all of our lives....more
There have been a couple of blog posts by various people (myself included) over the past year or so decrying what has been called either the X-games or extreme fly fishing approach among some of the “new breed” of anglers. Some books and especially DVDs seem to gravitate in that direction. There is plenty of debate as to whether fly fishing can indeed be an extreme sport--how extreme can one get in fly fishing?
But the issue isn’t whether the sport is “extreme,” it’s about the attitude a small seThere have been a couple of blog posts by various people (myself included) over the past year or so decrying what has been called either the X-games or extreme fly fishing approach among some of the “new breed” of anglers. Some books and especially DVDs seem to gravitate in that direction. There is plenty of debate as to whether fly fishing can indeed be an extreme sport--how extreme can one get in fly fishing?
But the issue isn’t whether the sport is “extreme,” it’s about the attitude a small segment of anglers brings to the sport--an in-your-face, braggadocio, “Outta my way, we’re gonna stick some pigs today!” mentality they bring to the water. It seems more about domination, about asserting their will over the elements and the fish: it’s about their conquests. (So as not to improperly malign any extreme sport or x-game participant, maybe we should call those with this mentality The Dominators, The Braggadocios, or possibly The Conquistadors.)
Conquests versus relationships. As soon as a fish is caught, isn’t that a conquest? Well, as soon as you “get the girl,” is *that* a conquest? It depends on the attitude of the one doing the getting, and what they want out of the experience--do they want a relationship or a conquest?
Scott Sadil brings us 12 stories about relationships, not conquests. Relationships between people who are dating, married, families, parent and child, teacher and student, faithful and unfaithful, and humans and nature. He seems to know the human condition concerning relationships as one having lived the life he writes about. Yet the characters in the book don’t bring Sadil’s knowledge with them to the stories, rather, they are searching to understand what they know about the experiences they’ve had.
Like Dori Cromwell in “Slate Blue.” She is a poet married to a successful businessman. Her first volume of poetry was published seven years previously, her husband thought that would be an end to any further desires to publish. Unknown to him, she harbored a desire to produce more work to show she wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. This unfulfilled need causes her to feel in a
...state of near numbness, her only feeling of late a gnawing sense of starvation, as if she is living off old toast and dried fruit--enough, maybe, to keep her alive, but she can feel parts of herself grown weak from malnutrition, her mind and heart atrophied at the edges...
Unlike many other fishing books, most of the main characters in these stories are not in, what most of the world considers, “the prime” of their life. These characters are often in their 50s and beyond. Some of them are grandparents. Some of them have been divorced. Most of them lead professional lives. They have experienced life and the relationships, whether flourishing or struggling, that come with a life lived.
One thing refreshing about the book is that these are not your Conquistador’s characters with sleek, toned bodies wildly dashing from one conquest to the next, but rather include the sagging, wrinkled bodies of those making deliberate decisions about what they want in life, such as Elliot Merrick in “Lake Albion,” while trying to court a single, retired gal “who sets his heart racing.”
It feels like a damn cliché: can’t get a fish, can’t get a date. At his age, however, he understands the perils of pressing on either front. He’s a patient man. You have to be.
Sadil is a high school teacher, and teachers and students make frequent appearances in the book. “Modest Perversions” is, I believe, the only non-fishing related story and the main characters are two female teachers and their male principal and their love triangle. This was one of my least favorite stories for reasons I can’t account for--maybe it is a little too soap opera-esque for me.
There is also a story that deals with the relationship, or supposed relationship, that strikes fear in the heart of every male teacher: that between a male teacher and a female student. In “The River Beulah,” Mr. Fairchild takes a job teaching at a high school because of its proximity to a river where he could fly fish “until his dying days.” (In my book, certainly a worthy criterion in choosing the location of one’s employment.) A girl student wants to learn to fish and Mr. Fairchild brings along a boy from school, who fly fishes, to make sure there are no accusations of impropriety. But the accusations are there anyhow. The story deals with how relationships, socioeconomic status and positions of trust must be navigated by newcomers in a small, rural community.
Father and son relationships are often tenuous. In real life a fly fishing father desires that his son(s) will take up the fly rod and join him on his fishing trips. Sadil explores two such relationships in “Chernobyl, Idaho,” where the older son doesn’t go on any fishing trips and the younger son, Patch, does, but, after a few token casts, is more interested in reading while his father fishes. In “Family Matters,” the same father and son characters appear and the father wonders about how people often feel compelled to do things with those they care about more out of duty to the person than love for the activity. Not referring to his sons, he muses,
There’s a reason, I conclude, that these same partnered, go-along individuals will almost always end up putting away their rods at some juncture, leaving the fishing--and all it requires--to the person in the relationship who cared about the sport in the first place. They quit for lack of love.
He then wonders about the desire, or not, that his sons have to fish.
One of the funniest stories is “Twenty Minutes More,” in which the husband wants to fish while he and his wife canoe. The wife finally gives him permission to fish, but he can only fish for a total of 20 minutes, divided up however the husband wants. This struck home for me, as that sounds exactly like something my wife would say.
I related to many of the characters in the stories because I have much in common with many of them or their circumstances since I’m entering middle age, I’m married, I have children, and all except one story prominently features fly fishing. But fishing isn’t the main aspect of the stories, it is usually just part of the action so Sadil can explore themes about relationships. These are not perfect relationships, nor does the character always “get the girl.” These are examined relationships that men or women readers can enjoy.
Sadil writes a tight story, with a good setting, good plots, interesting problems, and great characters with their own quirks and personalities. The stories don’t all end with resolutions neatly wrapped in bows, but often leave the reader to puzzle out for themselves what might happen next, but this is done subtly and doesn’t make the reader feel cheated out of a “proper” ending. ...more